WEDNESDAY WOMAN: Bajan promoting island in Canada
SHE IS NOT an employee at the Barbados Tourism Authority or the owner of a travel agency.
But what is most certain is that when Genoa Dowridge travels to Miami and Canada to work in factories or do domestic work, she “throws in her five cent’s worth” by “telling people how beautiful and unique my country Barbados is”.
Dowridge, who has been involved in promoting Barbados as a tourism product for the past ten years, said she is not “doing what she does for my country to make money, but to also change mindsets”.
This WEDNESDAY WOMAN explained how she started promoting the island through brochures, souvenirs, pictures, postcards or even “singing a song”.
“When we first went there to work, the Canadians would feel threatened by us because they thought we did a better job than them. So when they got mad at the girls they would tell the girls: ‘Why ya’ll don’t go back to Barbados in ya’ll mud huts?”
So that got some of us angry because up to that time they felt we lived in grass huts and mud huts. So some of my fellow Barbadians showed them pictures of their homes in Barbados [and] they were very surprised,” she said.
Dowridge explained that they were surprised because “they didn’t know that Barbados was so developed and beautiful”. She said that this was an indication that she should start marketing her country.
“They would cook down there and give me some and I would cook and give them some. When they ate our food they would say: ‘It tastes so nice and spicy’ and they would ask: ‘How did you do it?’
So I would tell them how we prepare our shepherd’s pie, cook up rice, cou cou . . . and, man, them love the rum, ’cause I give them some rum punch, man, and they wanted to know how it was made and if they could get some more.
“I also tell them about flying fish and they would laugh at me and say: ‘You are crazy; no, fish don’t fly’. So what I did is [this]: when I came back home I went to a gift shop and I bought a souvenir that shows a fish flying. When they see the fish with the wing open and it’s flying they would say: ‘It’s amazing, what you are saying is true, I want to come to Barbados to see fish flying’,” said the proud Barbadian.
Food was not the only thing the Lewis Gap, Green Hill, St Michael resident shared. She utilised the island’s rich culture as a dessert.Like our music
“I told them about Crop-Over and costumes and music and some of them said they saw it and they really like it. I sent home for tapes for them to hear some of our music. Some days I would sit and tell them about all the places of interest we have in Barbados and sometimes all they can say is ‘Amazing’.
“I show them Harrison’s Cave, the Animal Flower Cave, Andromeda Gardens. Those who visited the island already would tell me that while here they went to
Oistins and St Lawrence Gap and they ate fish which was nicely prepared,” she said, adding that “they could not stop telling us that the people here [Barbados] are so friendly and nice”.
And this 58-year-old Christian never forgets to tell her friends how safe her home of 166 square miles is.
Some of the people in Canada, [their] doors have on a lot of locks and bolts . . . . When you go to their house you wonder if anybody is home . . . . I tell them ‘Not in Barbados’.”
Dowridge explained that those she encountered often told her that they were impressed with her mannerisms, enthusiasm and sometimes even her sarcasm. She told of one time she did not fit into any of these categories but, according to her, she was “telling the truth and that’s what I saw”.
“I remember telling them I would like to go to your beach. But when I saw how mucky the water was, I asked them if this is a beach. They said: ‘Well, it’s not really a beach, it’s a river’, and I replied: ‘Well, I can’t bathe in that’.
“I said to myself if this is what they call a beach they have to see our beaches in Barbados. I took some pictures of some of the beaches we have . . . and showed them and, man, they could not believe that we have those beaches in our island.”
Dowridge indicated that as long as she was travelling to work, she would continue to promote her country and change mindsets.